Thursday, September 12, 2013


This video of a woman co-signing at the Wu-Tang concert at Bonnaroo recently went viral. I have experience with this, so enjoy.

For those that are unfamiliar with American Sign Language and deaf culture, co-signing is something you've seen before.  It is the act of live translation of English into ASL.  It is not easy, and it is amazing to watch.  The girl in this video is doing exactly that, except she has the advantage of knowing the song ahead of time.  My two stories involve the exact opposite situation.

For a brief time of utter failure I attended RIT, which shares it's campus with the NTID.  Part of my failure was never learning sign language, but this is not about that.  I did however experience two very funny co-signing incidents, both at concerts.

The first was at a show for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  If you've listened to them at all you know they are a very loud band that likes to scream occasionally, and Dickie, like most bands of the generation was not a very articulate singer.   A friend of mine had a class the next week which had an interpreter attached to it, because it had a deaf student in the class.  The interpreter that day happened to be the one from the show.  My friend asked him about it after class and he said he meets with the bands before hand to get an idea and if possible a lyric sheet from the set list.  At the meeting Dickie said that half the time he can't even remember the words. Knowing The Bosstones like I do, I was not surprised by this.

The second incident involved They Might Be Giants.  They have a certain song that their fans refuse to let them skip playing.  Istanbul.  The key fact to this story is that both the names Istanbul and Constantinople were finger spelled.  The interpreter spelled out each name letter by letter.  To this day I feel bad for that poor poor woman.

They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.

So be kind to ASL co-signers, they have a really difficult job.

Thanks for reading,
Your terribly ashamed at how dumb he was for not learning sign language when it was easy as hell to do so blogger,
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